Firewalls are an important tool for data protection on traditional desktops and mobile devices alike.
A firewall is firmware or software that can manage traffic entering and leaving a network or device. It provides end-user devices with an additional layer of security that includes rules about what traffic is allowed to flow in and out.
In homes and businesses, firewalls block all unwanted inbound traffic from hackers trying to infiltrate the network or exploit open ports or known vulnerabilities in an Internet-connected device. However, as more users rely on mobile devices and connect to public WiFi and networks, adopting a mobile firewall to protect devices as the first line of defense against cyberattacks becomes increasingly important.
As remote working has become more popular, so have the security risks that come with connecting to unsecured networks where hackers lurk. When a mobile device connects to a compromised network, hackers may be able to capture the device’s incoming or outgoing traffic. Penetration testing tools, such as those available in the Kali Linux distribution, provide hackers with an easy way to launch Wi-Fi attacks. They can impersonate legitimate public networks, and when a victim connects to one, all traffic can be forwarded to the attacker. In turn, the attacker can analyze all traffic to collect private data such as web traffic, passwords, and other sensitive company information.
How do mobile firewalls work?
A mobile firewall eliminates some attacks emanating from network-based threats to which a mobile device is vulnerable. It works like a traditional hardware firewall, but in this case it’s on a mobile device that can connect to both cellular networks and Wi-Fi. Using an application installed on the device, a mobile firewall manages the inbound and outbound traffic of a mobile device. It offers many of the same features as desktop and server-based firewalls; The difference is that it runs on mobile and is much easier to manage and configure. A firewall app can also ensure that any connection to a company’s network or other services hosting private data is secure by using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) feature.
App-based mobile firewalls typically provide the following features:
- Web filtering features that may block some content that may be malicious or unwanted;
- Ability to block all incoming traffic and any attempt to exploit known device or mobile operating system vulnerabilities;
- automatic VPN to allow the mobile device to connect and transfer information securely;
- Ability to block known threats such as malware and other malicious attacks;
- Internet traffic controls to manage and implement browsing policies;
- Ability to stop data usage as part of a data usage cap;
- custom internet rules related to the type of inbound and outbound traffic;
- App traffic controls to block streaming or unwanted app usage;
- Ability to block spam or phishing links from emails and SMS; and
- Traffic monitoring and reporting.
One factor to consider with a mobile firewall is the operating system of the device on which it is installed. Android and iOS dominate the market, and the wide range of attacks and malware detected on many Android apps has prompted many IT admins to push for the use of mobile firewalls on Android devices, especially as a preventative measure to ensure the security of company data.
4 enterprise mobile firewall applications
When considering firewall protection to protect mobile data within organizations, IT administrators can choose from a variety of products available on the market today. Factors to consider when considering these options include the operating systems the apps will run on and whether they offer additional privacy features.
This Android-based app allows IT teams and users to restrict which applications can access an organization’s network. It can control any traffic flowing no matter what type of network it originates from. IT can use the app to manage rules for any external storage within the device and support multiple profiles including work, home, and other desired user configurations. AFWall+ can also send notifications about new app installs.
This firewall app works similarly to some of the other popular firewalls on the Google Play Store, giving IT teams control over outbound and inbound traffic to all their apps, and supports Wi-Fi or cellular connections for each app. It also supports VPN connections, manages data usage and blocks unwanted incoming traffic to the device.
Guardian Firewall + VPN
Guardian is a popular firewall app for iOS devices. The app blocks malicious IPs and websites and prevents unwanted apps from collecting personal information. It can also notify users about any service or app attempt to make unwanted connections. Firewall functionality can block all unwanted connections to location trackers and offers IP masquerading to hide the device’s identity as well.
Mobile Security by ZoneAlarm
ZoneAlarm Mobile Security is an option for Android and iOS devices and offers comprehensive security software that protects against advanced cyber attacks. With a strong focus on personal data protection, the app can block web attacks and offers zero-day phishing protection to protect credentials while users browse the web. The app can validate every link a user opens in real-time with Check Point ThreatCloud, which tracks if a particular URL is potentially malicious.
As security threats continue to lurk online and corporate employees increase their personal use of mobile devices, IT must carefully consider mobile device protection. Firewall apps are an ideal first-line defense that can ensure the protection of corporate data and block the threats that are available on public Wi-Fi networks and from potential apps that might contain malware.